‘’Avoid Kwara state or turn a new leaf!’’ That was the stern, one-line verbal warning that Alhaji Aminu Saleh Pai handed to criminals operating in Kwara state moments after he took charge of the State Police Command. From the testimony of his colleagues, the police commissioner’s warning is an article of faith on which anyone can hang their hat on. If this be so, then bad times are truly here for criminals in Kwara state.
Indeed, those who deployed the hard-nosed crime-buster to Kwara state had good reasons for the choice. As a matter of fact, the commissioner of police literary hit the ground running when he took charge on April 20. Within hours of assuming duties, for instance, COMPOL Aminu Saleh applied stop-gap security strategies in identified hotspots across the state to complement the presence of uniformed policemen and women. The idea is to ensure prompt response to distress calls.
As a means of staying a step or two ahead of criminals, the security architecture of the state is being overhauled. A new and more effective in-house re-orientation programme has also been introduced as a way of motivating officers and men of the state Police Command to give their best in protecting the citizenry. What is more, personnel reorganization as a way of widening the reach of the state Command is now a matter of routine.
To this extent, COMPOL Aminu Saleh has served notice on officers and men to be prepared to be juggled at regular intervals as a way of ensuring more police presence across the state. So far, most part of the state now witness 24-hour police patrol while the comatose Police Community Committees have been revived to add bite to community policing.
Since assumption of office and during his tour of police formations, the police commissioner continues to remind officers and men of the Command of the high standards expected of today’s policemen and women by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim K. Idris. As things stand, the police commissioner has opened direct consultations with relevant stakeholders in the state in a bid to strengthen police capacity to discharge their responsibilities effectively.
There is scant surprise that COMPOL Aminu Saleh is aware that his plans will come to nought without the active support of the citizenry. To this extent, he has expressed the wish to engage community and religious leaders as well as other stakeholders on regular basis. At a recent session with journalists, the police commissioner said the Command is being repositioned to stem the tide of communal clashes, armed robbery and banditry and check the activities of political thugs.
This, indeed, are trying times for Kwara state, a situation that underscores the need for a hugely experienced and intelligent police officer in the mould of Aminu Saleh Pai to take charge of the Command. For a largely peaceful and peace-loving, it is a matter of concern that elections in Kwara state have remained do-or-die affairs during which armed, red-eyed and reefer-reeking thugs perpetrate evil at the behest of their patrons. If truth be told, these are disharmonious times for the famed State of Harmony.
It is not a matter of fortuity that Alhaji Aminu Saleh was deployed to Kwara state two weeks after a bloody robbery incident in Offa. On April 5th, some 30 darerevil youths who were armed to the hilt invaded Offa, the state’s second city, and killed innocent civilians and policemen before they shot their way into nearby banks where some bank customers were killed. The April 5th bloodbath was the second in recent times.
Observers believe that busting the robbery and bringing its perpetrators to book ranked high on the briefs given to the police commissioner. But, equally important is the overall security of the state especially with crucial elections just months away. So far, it is to the credit of the new police commissioner that key suspects linked to the Offa robbery and their patrons have been arrested. What is even more reassuring is the police commissioner’s vow that what happened at Offa on April 5th will not be allowed to repeat itself in any part of the state.
At the end of the day, what will stand Police Commissioner Aminu Saleh in good stead is the experience he is bringing to bear on his assignment in Kwara state. At various times, he served, among others, as Force Communication Officer at Force Headquarters, Abuja before he served as Deputy Commissioner of Police in such ‘difficult’ states as Niger, Kano and Ekiti. His last post was Commandant of Police College, Kaduna
Politics is here and, with it comes the dirty dealings and bloodbath that election times in Kwara state is notorious for. How Police Commissioner Aminu Saleh reins in the politicians and check the excesses of the thugs on their payrolls will determine how far he goes in his avowed mission to ensure people of Kwara state sleep with their two eyes closed. Ultimately, it will also determine how well or otherwise he executes the office of commissioner of police.
It must have come as a pleasant surprise to residents that, barely nine months to the 2019 general elections, an atmosphere of calm and amity pervades the state. If the situation holds and, Police Commissioner Aminu Saleh says his man and officers have no reason to drop their guards, it may not be too long before citizens begin to enjoy the luxury of sleeping with both eyes closed.
Magaji <[email protected]> lives in Abuja